Sticking needles into my arm, they told me not to tense up. I shivered, the pins sitting in my skin. The Chinese nurses seemed to know what they were doing though, claiming their techniques would help ease my sore throat. It was the first time I had been exposed to acupuncture, and it was only one of the many anomalies I would encounter in my ten-day trip to Beijing.
A prospective student for the STEM Bodies program, I was given the opportunity to study Eastern Medicine in Beijing, China.
â–º QUARTER FINALIST 2012 TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
From acupuncture and cupping to teas and herbal remedies, the Chinese healing process seemed bizarre to me. Sickness in my household had always met prescription medicine, "the cure to all ails." These contrasting methods excited me, as I allowed myself to consider the validity of each.
Although the focus of the trip was science, I found my learning extended beyond the classroom. Beijing challenged my mind, asking me to reconsider what life looked like. The handsome architecture of ancestral palaces lay interwoven between massive buildings of modern day. Innovative outdoor exercise equipment added color to the pale bends of sidewalks. These silly juxtapositions breathed an air of curiosity into my heart, and I looked on with observant eyes.
As part of our trip, we stayed in a dormitory with high school kids from China. They taught me jump rope games and we laughed often, as laughing was a language we could all understand. Fortunately, our miscommunications were relatively few. While I had only known Mandarin for a week, the Chinese students had been practicing English since elementary school. I found myself disappointed that I had waited until the age of 14 to start learning a foreign language.
A change in scenery helps grow the mind. With acupuncture, my hesitancy had stemmed from my lack of familiarity with the practice. Yet, the more I was introduced to new experiences, the less I shied away from them. China served to remind me of all I have left to explore.
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